The newly elected Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) has begun its time in office squabbling over the allocation of portfolios.
Two weeks have passed since the elections and the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), to which all 15 members in the incoming SRC are affiliated, could not reach consensus on who would lead the SRC.
A political deployment committee (PDC) was elected to allocate portfolios but this committee was disbanded last week for “manipulating the process”, according to a source close to the party.
Gender surfaced as an issue that was rigorously debated in deciding which candidate should be elected president of the 2011/2012 SRC.
A male candidate was initially elected but the final draft has a female dubbed the most competent candidate for the seat.
Feziwe Ndwayana confirmed her election as president of the new SRC, with Tebogo Thothela set to be her internal deputy and Tshepo Lethea as external deputy in a portfolio allocation list approved by the PYA on Monday.
The portfolio allocations and presidential posts would be officiated in a meeting with chief electoral officer, Jabu Mashinini, yesterday.
However, a document from the meeting, found by a reporter, stated that the disbanded committee chose Tebogo Thothela as the new president.
Nwayana said there was much debate around her appointment as SRC president.
“It all boiled down to the fact that society to some extent still lacks trust and confidence in female leadership.
In the initial portfolio allocation meeting people were confused about why certain portfolios were allocated as they were and we had to extend the process for more rigorous debate regarding leadership,” Ndwayana said.
In a document handed out at the meeting, the PYA justified its allocation of portfolios saying: “…the Political Deployment Committee, after extensive deliberations and debate resolved on the following shape of the SRC and portfolio allocation.”
The document, further states that the PDC recommended its portfolios remain as listed and that, given the quality of leadership in the incoming SRC, believed past failures in the running of portfolios will be rectified.
PYA spokesperson Godfrey Maja said: “There were no disagreements as such, we just had various debates.
“There is no crisis whatsoever and there was never any disunity. We persuaded each other and reached agreement on the portfolio allocation.”
According to Maja, Ndwayana was chosen in part for her experience in the PYA but also  because she is viewed as the best candidate who can provide the right political direction in the incoming SRC.
“Her involvement in tackling issues the PYA is passionate about such as the worker’s struggle was also considered during selection,” said Maja.
Candidate’s credibility, leadership history, leadership style, competence as well as a good understanding of the SRC and the processes within it were the main factors considered in allocations and choosing the president and her deputies, according to Ndwayana.
“All candidates in the incoming SRC are capable of leading as president, but how long will it take for us to be led by another competent female?
“As a progressive alliance, even though patriarchy has oppressed women in the past.
“We could not let it take us another four years or so before we could be led by a female, not just because she is female but most importantly because she is duly competent.”